Semblance is a power exhibited by certain characters in RWBY.
Semblance is the manifestation of one's innate and personal power as an ability unique to each individual, with the effects varying greatly from user to user. The nature of one's Semblance is noted as representing an aspect of their character. However, a person's Semblance can be similar to the Semblances of their parents or other family members. For instance, the Schnee family Semblance, summoning glyphs, is completely hereditary. According to Winter Schnee, a Semblance that remains exactly the same between family members is something very rare.
According to "Aura", the fourth installment of RWBY: World of Remnant, Semblance is a more tangible projection of one's Aura. Pyrrha Nikos implied this connection when she told Jaune Arc that the use of Aura can help him to discover his Semblance. Miles refers to Semblance being "fueled" by Aura.
Those that use Semblance are able to manipulate certain physical phenomena according to the nature of their power. Some individuals, such as Weiss Schnee, are able to use their Semblance to create "glyphs" that generate some desired effect - the most prominent being sudden disruptions in movement and bursts of momentum. Ruby Rose is able to move at incredible speeds, while Pyrrha could manipulate magnetic forces. Some have Semblances that depend on external factors, such as Nora Valkyrie's ability to convert electricity in the environment into physical strength.
Using Dust, certain individuals can modify their Semblances with elements, such as Weiss using Myrtenaster to change her glyphs and Blake inserting Dust vials into Gambol Shroud to make her Shadow clones take on elemental properties.
Overuse of one's Semblance for prolonged periods may adversely affect its user at certain times. This was demonstrated by Weiss on one occasion after using a series of glyphs in rapid succession to assist Ruby, subsequently collapsing afterwards. This is also seen in "End of the Beginning", when Glynda Goodwitch shows signs of exhaustion from using her Semblance to fix the city.
It seems that emotional turmoil or stress can affect one's use of Semblance, as exhibited in "Destiny", where Pyrrha Nikos' Semblance activates while talking to Jaune Arc and accidentally slams him into the stone wall. Later, in "PvP", Pyrrha temporarily warps her weapon and shield for a moment during her tournament round. This phenomenon is exhibited by Weiss in "Tipping Point", when she accidentally summons a Boarbatusk, which then attacks a party guest. The earliest and most frequent example of this phenomenon is Yang Xiao Long's habit of accidentally activating her Semblance when she is angry.
A user should not be able to still use their Semblance even though their Aura has been depleted.  Weiss could still use her glyphs in the "White" Trailer after being knocked down and bleeding, something that would imply that her Aura had been drained. However, this is an inconsistency, considering that the "White" Trailer was made early in the planning stages of RWBY, when even the concept of Dust was still in its prototype stage.
Ruby's Semblance was referred to as Speed by Pyrrha Nikos in "Jaunedice, Pt.2". Ruby can use her Semblance to move at speeds that are nearly too fast for the eye to catch, making it appear as if she can teleport. She uses this ability in combat to dodge attacks, disorient enemies, hastily retreat and quickly counterattack. Her Semblance is also capable of providing limited flight capabilities.
As seen in "Best Day Ever", she is also fast enough to create a slipstream that can pick up a large number of objects, including people. Ruby can also grab hold of other people or objects and carry them off at high speeds with her Semblance.
However, she has significant difficulty with carrying heavier loads, which causes her to falter after extended use, as seen during "A Minor Hiccup" with Penny Polendina, who is later revealed to be a metal robot and thus heavier than a normal human. Another drawback to Ruby's use of her Semblance is that she doesn't appear to have full control over it, possibly due to it requiring firm concentration in order to sufficiently utilize. This is evidenced in the episode "Players and Pieces", where she is unable to retreat from a Death Stalker, as well as in "No Brakes", where she only briefly uses her Semblance in a failed attempt to escape from Roman Torchwick and the White Fang.
After the fall of Beacon, Ruby's control over her Semblance has improved. As shown in the Volume 4 Character Short, she can repeatedly change directions in midair and attack at high speed. She also somehow exhibits the ability to seemingly burst into three separate clusters of rose petals which then flow around an opponent before reforming. The exact mechanics of this ability are not yet clear.
In "The Next Step", Ruby uses her Semblance to directly benefit her teammates in combat. This is demonstrated when she carried Nora toward the "Petra Gigas", with the former using her upgraded Magnhild before hammering the giant's face. Such speed blurs the appearance of the two, similar to the effect when Ruby used her Semblance in "Best Day Ever".
The official board game, RWBY: Combat Ready, refers the action of using her Semblance as "Dash".
Weiss' Semblance is Glyphs, which is the hereditary Semblance of the Schnee family. Her Glyphs have a variety of effects on objects, monsters and people. Weiss often uses her Glyphs for propulsion, as they have the ability to control motion, with the basic Glyph type exerting push forces on other objects and acting as a solid surface.
In "The First Step, Pt.2", Weiss uses her Glyphs as solid platforms to leap off of during her descent. She also uses a Glyph as a solid shield or barrier during her battle against the Boarbatusk in "The Badge and The Burden, Pt.2". She is also seen using her Glyphs to accelerate objects both through the air and over surfaces in "Players and Pieces" and various other occasions.
Using Myrtenaster, she modifies these Glyphs by changing which Dust vial is in use, giving a wide variety of effects. One variant of her Glyphs, called Time Dilation, speeds up actions and is the result of mixing Lightning Dust with her Semblance. Weiss is also able to confer these enhancements upon other people, as seen when she enhances Blake's speed during their fight against the Atlesian Paladin-290 in "Painting the Town...". A black version of the basic Glyph, which exerts pull forces, appears to result from the use of Dust, as evidenced by Myrtenaster's Dust chamber revolving in the "Volume 5 Weiss Character Short".
Another application of Weiss' Glyphs is Summoning. According to Winter, members of the Schnee family are able to Summon foes that they have previously defeated in combat and bring them to fight for their side. In "Lessons Learned", while helping Weiss practice Summoning, Winter instructs her to think about foes that caused her to push past who she was and become who she is. The foe that Weiss concentrates on is the Arma Gigas she had previously defeated in the "White" Trailer. As time goes on, she makes slow progress Summoning it - from a tiny sword in "Lessons Learned" to an arm and a sword in "Heroes and Monsters" to the full Summon in "Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back", albeit much smaller than the real one from the "White" Trailer.
In "Tipping Point", Weiss accidentally Summons the Boarbatusk she defeated in Peter Port's class using her Semblance, marking another non-deliberate Summoning, though this time of a full-bodied creature.
The official board game, RWBY: Combat Ready, refers the action of using her Semblance as "Deflection Glyph".
Blake's Semblance, Shadow, allows her to create clones of herself. These clones are solid, but can be dispelled easily if hit or if Blake moves too far away from them. They can be used to distract foes or take hits for Blake, and they appear to propel her in whatever direction she chooses.
Blake can also load Gambol Shroud with Dust to make her shadows copy an element, with her afterimages becoming completely solid or even completely intangible depending on the chosen form of Dust. Fire Dust allows her to create fiery clones that explode on contact, ice Dust allows her to create solid ice copies of herself, and earth or stone Dust allows her to create a clone of solid stone.
In "Mountain Glenn", Blake says that her Semblance is a reflection of her tendency to run from her problems rather than face them; she leaves behind an empty copy of herself which takes the hit while she escapes.
Over time, Blake's shadow clones have been shown to develop from mere afterimages into fully convincing decoys able to remain in effect for longer periods. In "Of Runaways and Stowaways", a clone is even able to exert force after being created, sending the real Blake high into the air.
The official board game, RWBY: Combat Ready, refers the action of using her Semblance as "Copy Cat".
Yang's Semblance is the ability to absorb energy from the damage she's taken, and redirect it twice as hard at her opponent, effectively making her stronger with each hit. Her ability also causes her eyes to change color from lilac to red, which is a "side-effect" of her Semblance, though it does occasionally happen outside of combat. When using her Semblance, she draws power from her hair. Monty Oum has compared Yang's Semblance to a "Power Meter" from fighting games.
However, Yang's Semblance does not grant her invincibility, and she does take damage from her opponents, as shown when Adam Taurus cuts her right arm off with Wilt and Blush. Taiyang Xiao Long likened her Semblance to a temper tantrum.
In the Volume 5 Yang Character Short, Yang was able to use her Semblance after her Aura was shimmering.
The official board game, RWBY: Combat Ready, refers the action of using her Semblance as "Rage".
Jaune has yet to officially find his Semblance, but in "Forever Fall, Pt.2", when Cardin Winchester attempts to punch Jaune in the face, there is a bright flash of light, and Jaune appears to have taken no damage. Cardin, however, holds his hand in pain. Monty Oum said that it was a first hint toward his Semblance.
Nora's Semblance is the ability to produce and channel electrical energy into her muscles, which lends to her absurd strength. Furthermore, she's practically immune from taking electrical damage as she simply absorbs any electrical current to fuel her strength. Her Semblance seemingly has no limit on how much it can absorb since she is seen taking a full blast of lightning with apparently no damage to her Aura levels.
Pyrrha had the ability of Polarity, which allowed her to command the force of magnetism. She could manipulate scores of metallic objects simultaneously and accelerate them to high velocities as well as bend and destroy them.
According to Mercury Black's analysis, once she came into contact with a magnetic object, she could remotely move it however she pleases. The food fight in "Best Day Ever" shows that she did not need to touch every single object for her to control it. Her ability was strong enough that it allowed her to manipulate normally non-magnetic metals, such as aluminum.
This can be seen as her spear and shield "levitate" toward her hands and she was seen controlling dozens of soda cans without touching them. She normally preferred to use this ability subtly, deflecting attacks with it in such a way that it creates the illusion of her being untouchable.
However, she was known to use it more overtly in both an offensive and defensive capacity on occasion, as shown in "PvP", where she used her Semblance to create a pulse and knock back Penny's swords. Her ability was so strong, she could lift multiple huge gears and throw them, as shown in "End of the Beginning".
Every time she used Polarity, her hands and the metallic objects that she manipulated would emit a black outline.
Ren's Semblance masks negative emotion which aids him in avoiding detection by Grimm, as demonstrated the night Kuroyuri was attacked. When he first used it that night, he was hiding in a small channel, gripped with panic. His Semblance activated, and soon after, he became calm and rushed to help Nora with no interference from nearby Grimm. Once there, he activated his Semblance again, extending its effects to Nora, who stopped trembling and whimpering. A Nevermore that was perched atop the house moved down and looked around without noticing them before taking off. Even if the affected person is in the visual field of the Grimm, the Grimm does not sense the person, as demonstrated when Ren used it on Jaune and Qrow when facing the Nuckelavee.
When his Semblance activates, the affected person's colors become temporarily grayed out.
Sun's Semblance is named Via Sun, the ability to create clones of himself. While similar to Blake's Semblance, the key difference is that rather than leaving clones behind to take the hit, his clones are able to fight for him. It is shown in Volume 2 that he must stand still and actually manipulate them into performing actions. While his Semblance is activated, his hair and tail glow yellow. His clones also have the ability to detonate on contact. In "Of Runaways and Stowaways" two of his clones help him move the Sea Dragon's head to redirect its blast away from the ship it was aiming for.
He is first seen using his Semblance in "Painting the Town...", where he creates a pair of clones that attack Roman Torchwick's Paladin, though it proved rather ineffectual against the mech.
It would also seem as if his Semblance rapidly depletes his Aura, for he can not maintain it for longer periods of time without experiencing fatigue. In "Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back", after exhausting his Aura from using four clones, he was wounded by Ilia Amitola.
His Semblance is based on a power of the mythological Sun Wukong, who also had the ability to create clones of himself from strands of his hair.
On the Volume 3 Directors' Commentary, it is stated that Velvet's Semblance allows her to mimic people's moves. She uses this in conjunction with her weapon, which creates hard-light copies of weapons she takes photographs of. Using this combination, she is able to use the copied weapons just as effectively as their original user. However, the weapons only last for a few hits.
Flynt Coal's Semblance is named Killer Quartet. It allows him to create three duplicates of himself (thus, a "quartet", including himself). Each of his duplicates appears with its own weapon, allowing him to attack with up to four times the strength simultaneously. His copies follow every action he makes a moment after he makes them. They do not appear to move on their own.
Each of his copies has their own color, himself with his "regular" appearance of cyan, plus duplicates in yellow, green and magenta. Their attacks from their trumpets also follow this color scheme.
Neopolitan's Semblance allows her to create "physical illusions that can be seen by everyone". These illusions are highly convincing and shatter like glass when she dispels them or someone breaks them. Her Semblance is first seen in "Painting the Town...", where she creates an illusion wall bearing images of herself and Roman Torchwick as a distraction for Team RWBY as she and Roman escape to a nearby Bullhead.
Neopolitan's apparent ability to teleport, as seen in "No Brakes", after Raven Branwen appears, may be faked using illusions. Throughout Volume 3, she uses her Semblance to disguise herself. For example, in "Round One", she changes her hair color, eye color and skin tone with illusions. In "Heroes and Monsters", she rids her clothing of the illusion of an Atlesian military uniform that she had appeared to be wearing since "PvP".
Emerald's Semblance is individual mental hallucinations - the ability to modify the sensory information in a person's head while their brain is processing it. She can make one (or more) see and hear things that aren't necessarily there. In other words, instead of generating an illusion that everyone nearby can see, she causes her target to hallucinate.
Her Semblance is shown to have its limits. Whilst she seems capable of easily controlling a single mind, controlling any more than that seems to tax her own head severely. After making two paramedics mildly hallucinate in "Beginning of the End", she complains that this has given her a headache. It is unknown what the consequences of manipulating any more would do to her mind.
She has been shown to use her Semblance to distract her opponent, such as when she causes Coco Adel to see and hear a fake Yatsuhashi Daichi during her and Mercury Black's doubles round in the tournament. This distraction allows her to leave her hiding spot and find a much better position to sneak attack Coco.
She can also use her Semblance to lure someone into a trap, which she does to Amber in "Beginning of the End". In the episode "Fall", Emerald uses her Semblance to trick Yang into believing that Mercury is attacking her after their tournament match has concluded. Yang reacts by reflexively punching and firing her weapon to stop Mercury from kicking her. In reality, Mercury stands up, calmly walks toward her and stands in the perfect spot for the bullet she fires to strike his leg. Similarly, in "PvP" Emerald uses her Semblance to make Pyrrha see thousands of swords instead of the true amount, resulting in the latter's panicked response with her own Semblance.
Adam's Semblance is possibly called Moonslice based on notes given by Monty. It is described as being akin to Yang's Semblance, however the main difference is that Yang uses the added power to her own strength, while Adam seems to put it all into one blow. It was powerful enough to deplete the remainder of Yang's Aura and sever her arm in a single strike in "Heroes and Monsters."
His Semblance appears to involve absorbing an attack with his sword, Wilt, and then cutting his opponent with countered force. In the "Black" Trailer, Adam uses Moonslice on the Spider Droid after absorbing a large energy beam, disintegrating the robot. It is shown in "Heroes and Monsters" that there can be a period of time between absorbing attacks and cutting an opponent, such as when his sword absorbed Gambol Shroud's bullets, and executing Moonslice after Yang appeared. In these instances when he absorbed attacks, everything red on him - such as his hair, his shirt, Wilt's blade and the markings on his mask and coat - began to glow.
Glynda's Semblance is telekinesis, the ability to move or control objects. She has a high degree of control over her Semblance and is capable of using it in combat both defensively, by stopping projectiles, and offensively, by manipulating objects and using them to attack.
Her Semblance also appears to be able to re-assemble and repair broken objects, an ability she puts to use in "Breach", sealing the entrance through which the Grimm were entering. She also uses it to repair rooms and property destroyed by the antics of Team RWBY and Qrow Branwen.
As seen in "It's Brawl in the Family", Winter has the Schnee family Semblance of Glyphs. Her glyphs have many of the same effects that her sister's do, most notably including the ability to exert forces on herself and objects, which Winter uses to move around with great agility in combat.
Like Weiss and other members of the Schnee family, she can also summon versions of her past enemies to fight for her. Unlike Weiss, she displays great mastery of this aspect of her Semblance. Her Summons are known to include dozens of miniature Nevermores, as well as a full-size Beowolf. Her Summons take on a white-blue coloration and emit a soft glow, similar to that of sparkling snow.
Qrow's Semblance brings misfortune wherever he goes, and unlike most Semblances, his is always active and uncontrollable. This leads to incidents as small as a glass being knocked into the floor in "New Challengers..." or as significant as a wooden beam almost falling on Ruby Rose in "Punished". Qrow has stated that his Semblance can be used to his advantage in a fight. His Semblance does not discriminate whom it affects, which causes him to keep his distance from the people he cares about.
While Penny's Semblance hasn't been officially revealed, Rooster Teeth's board game, RWBY: Combat Ready, refers to the action of her Semblance as "Blade Manipulation".
- Much like how the weapons in RWBY have specific noises associated with them, Semblances do as well.
- Not everyone discovers their Semblance despite being an active fighter, such as Roman Torchwick.
- ↑ RWBY Livestream
- ↑ RWBY Volume 3 Live Stream
- ↑ 'Rooster Teeth Tumblr Q&A October 5, 2017
- ↑ Rooster Teeth Tumblr Q&A October 5, 2017
- ↑ RWBY: Combat Ready Kickstarter page
- ↑ RWBY Volume 3 Episode 4: "Lessons Learned"
- ↑ Volume 2 Directors Commentary Painting the Town...
- ↑ "Painting the Town..."
- ↑ "Volume 5 Weiss Character Short"
- ↑ RWBY: Combat Ready Kickstarter page
- ↑ Volume 1 Directors Commentary Players and Pieces
- ↑ RWBY: Combat Ready Kickstarter page
- ↑ RWBY Crew Chat
- ↑ AfterBuzz RWBY After Show Volume 2 Episodes 3 & 4
- ↑ Monty's Twitter
- ↑ RWBY: Combat Ready Kickstarter page
- ↑ Volume 1 Directors Commentary Forever Fall, Pt.2
- ↑ Volume 4 Directors Commentary 2:26:27
- ↑ Volume 2 Directors Commentary 47:51
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 Volume 3 DVD Directors' Commentary
- ↑ Volume 3 Directors Commentary
- ↑ Volume 3 Director's Commentary
- ↑ Monty Oum's Twitter
- ↑ RWBY 3 Marathon Hype Stream
- ↑ AfterBuzz
- ↑ RWBY Volume 2: World of Remnant: Aura
- ↑ RWBY: Combat Ready Kickstarter page
- ↑ Rooster Teeth Tumblr Q&A October 5, 2017